Working to Reverse the “Backyard Curse”

By Nathan                                                                                    


A game of speed, strength, and timing. A battlefield within 4 corners. A complex and endlessly fascinating symphony of inception, deception, and perception. Where there is a limitless possibility of shots and strategies.

This is a game of badminton, but you didn’t know that.

Although popular in places such as Malaysia, China, and parts of Europe, most of the time badminton is viewed as a backyard game in Canada and the US due to people’s incapability to see past their leisurely encounters with the sport.

An international poll by “Ranker” titled “Most popular sports in America”, shows badminton as the 61st most popular sport in the U.S. Badminton being ranked concerningly below sports such as cheerleading, jogging, and racquetball. 

Screen Shot 2019-07-15 at 12.15.53 PM“Badminton can be regarded as the country’s number one sport based on performance internationally.”, stated by Malaysia’s Youlth and Sports Minister, Khairy Jamaluddin. 

However, in Malaysia, badminton continues to be mocked by school classmates and friends regularly in the International School of Kuala Lumpur. I myself have heard statements such as “Badminton is just tennis for girls” and questions like “Why don’t you play a real sport?”. 

Badminton is not only an exceptional sport, but it is a necessary piece of Malaysian culture that deserves center stage in schools worldwide. 

I will resurrect the acknowledgment badminton players deserve, blowing away these fossilized opinions. 

Badminton is seen as an inferior sport by people, commonly due to a lack of exposure. These perceptions causing unpopularity in potential athletes under mostly American influence, and creating negative stereotypes of badminton worldwide.

In the US, children will never grow up thinking “I want to become a star badminton player”, as they have already obtained very little exposure initially. Keep in mind the U.S plays a large role in the popularity of sports worldwide.

Screen Shot 2019-07-15 at 12.16.02 PMDuring their childhood, American children do not learn the importance of Malaysia’s Datuk Lee Chong Wei. However, Serena Williams, Ronaldo, and Michael Jordan will continue to be respected athletes in American influence who which young athletes can aspire to. These influences having large impacts on biases between sports.

Moreover, the streams of popularized matches and screaming crowds shown frequently on television, assist in capturing young viewers into an inescapable box of particular activities.

This box is called “Conformity” and “Expectations”. 

See, badminton is not seen as inferior due to its reality as a sport, but evidently, is due to the expectations set by American influence, making participation in American popularized sports an assumption. 

Young athletes conform, squeezing themselves into this box-like prison, the benefits being acceptance in their community. However this prison is chaining people from acknowledging foreign sports, and therefore badminton cannot strive. Badminton is not the issue, it is the people.

Screen Shot 2019-07-15 at 12.16.10 PMFootball, rugby, and basketball are all sports stereotyped as “real man” activities in my school. Yet, no classmate fails to ignore the obsession and drive, one possesses in order to become a fantastic badminton player. 

Badminton has higher physical demand compared to sports of higher popularity, therefore should be acknowledged as a “respectable” activity by athletes and viewers. 

Comparing badminton to tennis (the 4th most popular sport in the world), we can see that both net sports are played in intense and fast-paced rallies. However, tennis still has a towering popularity over badminton, of approximately 60 million players worldwide, according to Topend Sports.

A comparison was made between the Wimbledon title match vs the Badminton World Championship match, both being held in 1985. “The average distance traveled by a badminton player in a singles game had been 3.7 miles and the average distance traveled by a tennis player was 1.8 miles.” Stated by NHL analyst, Bill Clement from ESPN. An average badminton match being approximately 1 hour, 15 minutes, while an average tennis match can last up to even three hours. 

The badminton players had been traveling twice the distance compared to tennis players and in half the time, depicting badminton as more physically demanding. Badminton is clearly faster, more intense, and continuous, requiring more stamina comparatively. Yet where is the support? The respect? The equality?

To sum it up, badminton is actually a sport requiring high physical demand and is packed with action, however, can possibly be seen as inferior mainly due to American influence. People should learn to ignore social norms and expectations in their communities, and instead give a chance to other potentially enjoyable sports. Badminton would then be given the fair chance to hopefully be enjoyed, appreciated, and finally reach equality with other sports in schools worldwide.


Works Cited

Clement, Bill. “Badminton Second to Soccer in Participation Worldwide.” ESPN, ESPN Internet Ventures, 23 July 2004,

“Why Isn’t Badminton Popular in America?” Badminton Information – The Best Online Resource on Badminton,

“US Badminton Players Work to Reverse The.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network,

“The Most Popular Sports in America.” Ranker, Vote on Entertainment Mash Graveyard Shift Anime Underground Weird Nature Unspeakable Crimes Video Shop,

“Home | New Straits Times | Malaysia General Business Sports and Lifestyle News.” NST

Team, Realbuzz. “Top 10 Most Popular Participation Sports In The World.” Realbuzz 5, 11 Mar. 2019,

Lee Chong Wei Image: 

Helmi, Talkah. “A Sick Chong Wei to Retire?” New Strait Times, 28 July 2018, 

Lin Dan Image: 

Adrian. “Was Lin Dan Trained in Cross Fit?” Was Lin Dan Trained in Cross Fit?, 11 Feb. 2014,